Did you ever think you'd spend so much time pondering lightbulbs? But now that incandescent bulbs are being phased out, you have to know a few things about the bulb you're replacing and the energy-saving one you're considering. If this sounds more like a part-time job than a trip to the store, it's time to read our free buying guide and check out several recommended online sources that are also illuminating.
Our lightbulb buying guide gives it to you straight. Consider the fixture, and the bulb's brightness, light color, and Color Rendering Index (CRI). That's a fancy way of saying that some lightbulbs are better than others at accurately showing the true colors of those red apples in the yellow bowl on your granite counter. We compare the pros and cons of incandescent bulbs, CFLs, halogen bulbs, and LEDs, and explain lightbulb lingo and the gradual phase out of incandescent bulbs by 2014.
Our latest lightbulb tests found that LEDS outshine CFLs, but it's up to you to decide if the LED advantages outweigh their price. If not there are plenty of recommended CFLs to choose from.
Energy Star's "Choose a Light Guide" is a fun interactive tool that shows how the light color of CFLs ranges from warm to cool and offers an easy way to learn which type of CFL—spiral, A-shape, candle, and more—works best in various fixtures. The chirping crickets are a nice touch, but too bad there isn't an interactive tool for LEDs as well. To see how lighting affects design and creates a mood, watch the lighting design videos on the website of the American Lighting Association, a trade group. Okay, now you're ready to shop.